Harvick now in spotlight after incendiary comments toward RCR (VIDEO)

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In the long run, Darrell Wallace Jr.’s win in today’s Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway – the first for an African-American driver in NASCAR national series competition in almost 50 years – will be what’s most remembered from the event.

But right now, that accomplishment may be overshadowed by Kevin Harvick’s fiery verbal missive toward Richard Childress Racing, the team he’s currently chasing a Sprint Cup championship with and the team he’ll be leaving at the end of the year for Stewart-Haas Racing.

With 13 laps to go in today’s Truck race, RCR’s Ty Dillon got into the back of Harvick while battling for second place behind Wallace. With a little “help” from the oncoming Matt Crafton, Dillon wound up spinning Harvick out.

Dillon proceeded to hit Harvick’s truck repeatedly under the ensuing yellow, followed by Harvick stopping near Dillon’s stall on pit road. That drew out several members of Dillon’s crew for a brief confrontation, which saw an orange hammer launched toward Harvick’s truck during the proceedings.

That was the first round of fireworks. Then came round two.

“The 3 [Dillon] just dumped me, and that’s exactly the reason I’m leaving RCR because you have these kids coming up that have no respect for what they do in this sport,” Harvick said to Fox Sports. “Everything’s fed to them with a spoon.

“I cut him slack all day and he just dive-bombs me in there and dumps me…It’s a shame you’ve got to get taken out by some rich kid like that.”

It should be noted that Ty Dillon will be moving up to RCR’s Nationwide Series squad next season, while Austin Dillon is expected to jump to Sprint Cup and basically replace Harvick in that category.

Going into this weekend, Harvick had been the one driver out of the major Chase players that seemed the most “under the radar” despite having signaled his title contention earlier this month with a win at Kansas.

Furthermore, his looming departure from RCR hadn’t been at the forefront during the post-season. But after he effectively buried the team today, it sure will be now.

For his part, team owner Childress chose not to respond in kind to Harvick. According to Motor Racing Network’s Dustin Long, Childress said he had “too much class” to say what he really wanted to say but added that when he would, he’d “say it to [Harvick’s] face.”

Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall for that? But snark aside, this may have seriously negative implications for Harvick’s title bid. Currently fourth in the Chase at 26 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, he is still very much in the mix with four races to go – and a big result in tomorrow’s Cup race could help him hack into that deficit.

But Harvick and Childress must be able to set this apparent discord aside in order to focus on their main goal. And now, they’ll have to do that while their entire No. 29 squad faces what’s sure to be an ample amount of scrutiny after today.

Whether or not the two can get back on the same page has now become the main storyline for tomorrow’s critical Chase race in Virginia.

IMSA: Sebring Day 2 of two-day test notebook

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Testing across several IMSA sanctioned series continued at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday as preparations continue for next month’s events during the weekend of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Below are highlights from Day 2 of testing around the 3.74-mile road course.

Eurosport Racing Continues Work with Mazda Prototype Challenge Chassis

Teams in the Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda championship completed their second day of testing on Tuesday. Among them, Eurosport Racing continued their work with the only Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries in the field, in the hands of drivers Dr. Tim George (in the No. 24 entry) and Jon Brownson (in the No. 34).

“Right now, I’m driving by myself so we’re trying to make the car comfortable enough to last an hour and 45 minutes with just me in the car,” George said of their preparation efforts. “We’re trying to set up the car where it’s quick, yet it and can last, both the car and for me to make sure we don’t tire out, get fatigued and make mistakes.”

The 1 hour 45 minute window that George referenced represents the race times for the 2018 season, up considerably from last year’s sprint format that featured a pair of 45-minute races across a race weekend.

Though that change represents a drastic shift in driving philosophy, it is one that George welcomes.

“The new rules for the endurance races are great, I enjoy it a lot,” said George. “It gives you a chance to think through things differently with strategy. It also gives you a chance if you blow it…in a sprint race if you make a mistake you don’t get a chance to come back.”

Florida Drivers in Continental Tire Challenge Eager for Hometown Race at Sebring

A strong contingent of drivers from Florida are represented in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and next month’s 12 Hours of Sebring weekend will see them compete on home soil.

“I grew up in Tallahassee and I live in Orlando now, so Sebring has been my home track since day one,” said Paul Holton, driver of the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, which finished 14th at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. “I’ve spent a lot of time down here and really enjoy the place. It’s a nice, quaint little town not far from Orlando so it’s a quick, easy drive down for me.”

Fellow Floridian Ramin Abdolvahabi, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and driver of the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage, revealed that, even though Sebring is only two hours from his hometown, this week’s test was his first time at the track in two years.

“I haven’t been here for two years, so coming back is like coming home,” he said. “It’s a fantastic track and it’s one of the iconic tracks in the world so being at Sebring – a small town, my hometown, welcoming – it’s fantastic. I went on the track a couple of times yesterday and it’s just like wearing an old shoe, it just fits and it’s fantastic. Hopefully, the race will go well and the weather will hold, so anyone who’s out there, come and see us!”

Frank Raso Trades in Airplanes for Porsches at Sebring

Several IMSA drivers boast “day jobs” outside of their racing gigs. Among them, Frank Raso’s work falls outside of ordinary jobs like doctor or lawyer. Rather, Raso flies airplanes for a living.

“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” said Raso, who tested the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again. I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”

Raso explained that the skills he practices while flying planes are more than transferable to his driving duties in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order. It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.

“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert. It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”
The 54-year-old Raso posted a best finish of fourth, on four separate occasions, in a part-time schedule during the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as a competitor in the Gold Cup class.
Newcomers Get Taste of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
A number of new drivers got to sample Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge cars during the two days of testing at Sebring. Among them was amateur racer Scott Welham, who got his first taste of professional racing during the two-day outing at Sebring.
And he had a strong support system backing him up in the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team, the defending Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions with driver Jake Eidson.
“Here, you’ve got somebody that actually does coaching, data acquisition, track management – these are all separate people – plant manager, owner, a car-setup guy, you’ve got someone that bills you – which isn’t always a good thing, but you know, you just have that huge, huge support group that enables you to focus on driving,” Welham said of the team’s influence on his development over the two days.
IMSA’s next visit to Sebring will be for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.